Posts Tagged teen drug abuse
Given the increased efforts against prescription drugs, more teens are now turning their attention to over-the-counter medicines. Just because OTC drugs are sold directly to consumers without a doctor’s prescription, many teens think they are safer than narcotic painkillers — but the opposite is actually true.
Some of the symptoms of OTC drug abuse include dizziness, anxiety, confusion, nausea, inability to think clear, poor memory, poor coordination, hallucinations, and sleep disturbances.
But while you can’t police pharmacies who sell OTC medicines, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to keep your teen/s from abusing these drugs. After all, prescription drug abuse prevention still starts at home. That includes proper storage of prescription pills and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in your household, and disposing those that are no longer being used or already expired.
Here are 10 OTC drugs that are commonly abused by kids today. The more you know about them, the better you can keep them out of the hands of your children.
- Pain relievers (like acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
- Caffeine medicines and energy drinks (OTC caffeine pills like NoDoz or energy drinks like 5 Hour Energy)
- Diet pills
- Laxatives and herbal diuretics
- Motion sickness pills
- Sexual performance medicines
- Herbal ecstasy
- Other herbals
The TEDS Report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that more than 33,000 people were treated in 2010 for combined use of benzodiazepine and narcotic pain relievers. The figure is 569.7 percent higher compared with the 5,032 treatment admissions in 2000, which strengthens claims that prescription drugs are one of the fastest growing drug problem facing today’s youth.
Given prescription medications’ popularity these days, it isn’t surprising that many teens are experimenting the drugs with other dangerous substances, such as alcohol. This trend isn’t only resulting to increased emergency room treatment, it could also raise fatal overdose cases.
Here are some of the deadly drug combinations you should know so that you can help your children understand their risks even before they attempt using any of them.
Benzodiazepines and Alcohol
Xanax, Klonipin, Valium, Rohypnol, Halcion, and Ativan are some of the commonly abused drugs under the Benzodiazepines family. These drugs are general sedatives that are prescribed to treat muscle spasms, seizures, insomnia, anxiety, disturbances, and alcohol withdrawal. But when taken in combination with alcohol, the side effects may include dizziness, confusion, impaired memory, increased irritability and aggression, loss of consciousness and coma.
Antidepressants and Alcohol
Many antidepressant drugs cause side effects like drowsiness, impaired motor coordination, dizziness, and clouded cognitive abilities. When drugs like Prozac, Elavil, Wellbutrin or Zoloft (among others) are combined with alcohol, a person may experience heightened depression, increased drowsiness and dizziness, dangerously high blood pressure, and impaired alertness. The person may also be at greater risk of alcohol abuse.
Stimulants and Alcohol
Adderall is an example of stimulants that is gaining a lot of attention lately, particularly after it was reported that some high school students across the U.S. are taking the drug to improve academic performance. Other stimulants that are widely abused include Ritalin, meth, and cocaine. Mixing alcohol and stimulants like Adderall can cause a person to feel as if s/he is not drunk and in complete control of her/his senses. This is because the drug masks the actual effects of alcohol. The person may continue to drink and drink some more without realizing s/he is already binge drinking, and may lead to alcohol poisoning or even death.
Hawaii evokes images of an idyllic paradise where you can go to get away from life’s troubles and clear your mind of negative thoughts while you bask in the sun. (In fact, even writing the previous sentence makes me want to book a flight there now.) But Hawaii isn’t free from troubles. While many of us go there to get away, the state is home to over a million people and they also have the same troubles there that we face here, one of them is drug abuse.
Teenagers are teenagers no matter where they grow up and they will be tempted to experiment with drugs, even if they’re living in what many of us consider to be the epitome of tropical paradise.
I don’t mean to block out the sunshine and spoil the dreamy visions in your head but here are some cold, hard facts. (I’ve rounded percentages to the nearest whole number.)
According to studies done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 13,000 adolescents (just over 13%) in Hawaii use illicit drugs, with 10,000 (about 10%) using marijuana and 6,000 (6%) using some other illicit drug.
About 14% of adolescent males and 19% of adolescent females drink alcohol, with 10% of males and 12% of females engaging in binge drinking.
Surprisingly, many more adolescent females than males are dependent on alcohol (4.6% versus 1.6%) and are also dependent on or abuse illicit drugs (7.7% versus 4.4%).
Like the rest of the U.S., marijuana is the main illicit drug used by Hawaiian adolescents, but prescription pain relievers are also abused there, with 2,000 males and 3,000 females using pain relievers non-medically in the 12 months prior to being interviewed for studies.
Data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), an annual 1-day census of clients in treatment, found that adolescent males accounted for 55% (3,673) of the 6,734 adolescent substance abuse admissions in Hawaii on the day the study was performed.
Of the total male admissions, 22% were drugs only, 67% were alcohol and drugs, and 10% were alcohol only.
Of the adolescent female admissions, 17 % were drugs only, 68.9 % were alcohol and drugs, and 12.5 % were alcohol only.
Among adolescent admissions, marijuana and alcohol were the most prevalent substances abused.
Of the total male admissions, 77% (2,827) reported alcohol use and 87% (3,178) reported marijuana use.
Of the total female admissions, 81% (2,493) reported alcohol use and 81% (2,465) reported marijuana use.
Even more alarming, 8% of male admissions (308) and 14% (436) of female admissions reported methamphetamine use. Similarly, 5% of males (168) and 6% (169) of females reported cocaine use.
In addition to the N-SSATS info, data was also derived from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), which provides information on annual treatment admissions.
Okay, those are enough eye-popping numbers to let you know that, paradise or not, Hawaii is also facing a drug abuse epidemic like the rest of the country.
If you really want to know how substance abuse could impact a person’s life, just listen to those who have actually struggled with addiction at one point in their lives. Not only will you get a solid idea about drug addiction, you will also realize why it’s better to never try drugs in the first place.
“I wanted to be cool. I was so cool that I threw up all over myself,” said “Donald,” whose real name was withheld in The Santa Fe New Mexican report. “My life went way downhill.”
Donald was one of the three drug addicts who spoke before a crowd of over 600 teens during the Drug & Alcohol education program at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, NM. Now in his mid-50s, he recalled his introduction to alcohol in seventh grade and marijuana smoking in ninth grade. As adult he began using cocaine and then crack cocaine.
The other former drug addict speaking during the forum was Mark Romero who said alcohol first nabbed him when he was a teenager. “I didn’t have control,” he said. “I was a puppet. The alcohol was controlling me.” He is now in his mid-30s and has been clean and sober for three years.
Both Donald and Romero attended St. Michael’s High School. They spoke in relatively subdued, somber tones of the downward slide their lives took once they became hooked.
Donald was having the life many people would have wanted. He was a millionaire at 38 but he started neglecting his family, eventually becoming broke because of substance abuse. A year or so later, he underwent drug rehabilitation. He has been clean since 2004. He advised the attentive teenagers to communicate with their parents. “We were your age once,” he said. “We’re not stupid.” He added that if a teen tells his or her parents that he or she is addicted “Your parents are gonna get mad — but they won’t love you any less.” And their love, he said, could save a life.
The Drug & Alcohol education program was organized by the school’s Student Wellness Action Team (SWAT) for the students “to see what not to do” when it comes to substance abuse.
Early this year, the school announced that it would start random drug testing of students. According to principal Sam Govea and president Marcia Sullivan, the goal of the drug test is to educate kids and hopefully discourage substance abuse.
Wright State University released the result of its 2012 Dayton Area Drug Survey (DADS) which shows that alcohol and marijuana are the top two widely abused drugs among Dayton teens.
The survey, conducted every two years, had been participated by 15,734 students from 7th to 12th grade in sixteen Miami Valley area school districts. According to the results, alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among the respondents, followed by marijuana.
Of the more than 3,000 surveyed students, 67 percent said they drank alcohol at least once. However, the survey also demonstrated a decline in alcohol consumption by 12th graders from 55 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2012.
Marijuana ranks second as the most widely used drug by high school-aged students, surpassing tobacco cigarettes. The percentage of 12th graders who reported daily use of marijuana, defined as having used a drug 20 or more times in the 30 days before the survey, increased from 6.3 percent in 2010 to 6.9 percent in 2012. The percentage of 12th graders admitted used of marijuana at least once in their lifetime was virtually unchanged from two years ago (44.1%) to the present time (43.9%).
Tobacco cigarettes came third as the most widely used drug, though lifetime prevalence in 12th graders significantly dropped from 41.6% in 2010 to 37.1% in 2012.
The survey also reveals that among 12th graders, there has been a noticeable decrease in the lifetime prevalence of use of smokeless tobacco, non-prescribed prescription opioids and tranquilizers, heroin, Ritalin, over-the-counter stay awake/weight loss agents, inhalants and nitrous oxide, cocaine HCl and dextromethorphan (DXM).
The DADS is a collaborative effort between the Center for Interventions, Treatment & Addictions Research at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and area school districts. First administered in the 1990s, DADS is a biennial, cross-sectional study that provides estimates of non-medical drug use by school-aged teenagers in the Dayton, Ohio, area.
Prescription drug abuse among teens has climbed to an alarming rate. This fact has gotten health experts and law enforcement authorities worried as more and more kids are falling victims to the problem.
For Greenburgh Drug and Alcohol Task Force member and Irvington police officer Detective Kevin Johnson, the problem is so rampant that recorded violations against drugs and alcohol possession by teens and young adults has increased over the years; they have even caught kids with anti-anxiety medications and painkillers that should only be given to legitimate patients.
“It’s a huge problem, especially in these affluent towns,” Detective Johnson said. “We’re seeing it a lot more than before, and it seems as if parents don’t care about it nearly as much as having their kids do illegal drugs.”
Even pharmacists are also alarmed due to the massive amount of painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping tabs that have been dispensed since the country fell into recession in 2008.
Yet the problem of prescription drug abuse is still taken for granted by most people. The proof is best illustrated when the Dobbs Fery PTSA organized a forum last May and despite inviting substance abuse counselors and youth officers, only a few parents attended which was a big disappointment for the organizers.
Detective Johnson explains the probable reason why the expected turnout of parents was not reached during the event. Parents usually become the source of these prescription medications which often end up misused by their kids.
“I think parents are, for the most part, turning a blind eye to it and thinking ‘It couldn’t be my kid doing this,'” Johnson said. “But I think many would be surprised. I think it will take a death from overdose or mixing with alcohol or a kid driving off the road from taking these drugs that will have to be the wake-up call. It’s a sad reality.”